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Family Tree University’s Genetic Genealogy 101

Family Tree UniversityFor the very first time, Family Tree University is offering an online course (a four-week, instructor-guided class with material, quizzes, and extra credit homework)  directed to genetic genealogy! Announcing Genetic Genealogy 101, taught by yours truly!

This course is designed for the beginner, and will take you through the basics of genetics, mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal DNA (including understanding your results, using third-party tools, etc.). In addition to the materials, quizzes, and homework, there are message boards where you can ask me questions about DNA, about your research, anything related to DNA. And you’ll be able to connect with and learn from your fellow students (all from the comfort of your home)!

The class starts on Monday, June 16th, and every week for four weeks there is a new lesson. If you’re a beginner and really don’t know where to start with incorporating DNA into your genealogical research, or you’ve received your results and aren’t sure how to read them, this class might be a good fit for you.

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A Conversation About Genetic Genealogy

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Leclerc at Mocavo about DNA, our genealogical beginnings, and so much more. Michael recorded our conversation, and it’s now available as this week’s Mocavo Fireside Chat!

If you’re curious about Y-DNA, mtDNA, or autosomal DNA, or have questions about DNA in general, I think you’ll enjoy this Fireside Chat. And be sure to check out the previous chats, it’s a lineup full of great guests!

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DNAGedcom Announces New Tools For Genetic Analysis

DNAGedcomThe DNAGedcom team (lead by Rob Warthen, Diane Harman-Hoog and Karin Corbeil) would like to announce the following new items to the DNAGedcom system.

Product: Jworks – Autosomal Grouping Tool
Developer: Juan “Jay” Pizarro
Release Date: May 12, 2014

Download or Locationhttp://dnagedcom.com/Auto/JWorks.aspx

What It Does: This Excel based tool sorts and groups your chromosome browser results from FTDNA into overlapping DNA sets and assigns the ICW status within the set. By following the paper “Combining Results from All Tests” , the tool can also be used to organize the output from all three testing services. You must have Excel to use this. A Mac Version is also available.

Directions: Full directions are found on a link with in the product interface on dnagedcom.com

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Family Tree University Webinar – “Using DNA to Solve Family Mysteries”

Using DNA to Solve Family MysteriesTomorrow night at 7 PM EST, I will give a live webinar demonstrating some of the basics of DNA testing for ancestry, including many different ways you can use DNA to solve your family mysteries.  The cost is $49.99, which includes the hour-long webinar and my presentation slides.  This is the second DNA webinar I’ve given for Family Tree University, and the last one was very well received. It is better suited for those who are new to DNA testing or have received their results and are unsure how to apply them.

And if you are unable to attend tomorrow night, you can download the video and slides at any time! I hope to see you there!

From the website:

Using DNA to Solve Family Mysteries

Format: Live Webinar Registration

YOU’LL LOVE THIS IF:

* you want to explore how DNA can enhance your genealogy research you want to understand more about genetic genealogy

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The 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

I4GG

I know I say this every year, but 2014 is shaping up to be the year of Genetic Genealogy. There are many incredible opportunities this year for anyone interested in genetic genealogy to learn more and interact with others.

For example, just last month RootsTech 2014 featured numerous DNA sessions. This coming June, there will be an entire day of DNA at the 2014 SCGS Jamboree, where I and many other speakers will cover numerous topics related to DNA (see my coverage here and here). Among my presentations at Jamboree will be a completely new lecture that I’m really excited about – “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard,” which will be the first presentation completely devoted to the topic, and which I hope will spur some important conversation!

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DNA Day 2014 at the 45th Southern California Genealogy Jamboree!

Family History and DNA 2014The Southern California Genealogical Society has officially announced the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree (June 6-8, 2014), which will again be preceded by Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014.

Last year’s “Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2013″ was the first of its kind and was a huge success  As a result, the Jamboree organizers have organized a second DNA Day, which will held all day on Thursday, June 5, 2014, which is the day before Jamboree begins.

The FULL schedule for DNA Day 2014 is HERE (Thursday Schedule).

Keynote Speaker Dr. Maurice Gleeson

The keynote speaker at Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014 will be Dr. Maurice Gleeson, a popular speaker and the organizer of Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013, Ireland’s first conference on genetic genealogy.  I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gleeson at last year’s event (including about his interesting iCARA project), and he’s both engaging and extremely active in the genetic genealogy field.  I have no doubt his presentations and keynote will be fascinating.

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Understanding Autosomal DNA With Just a Few Basic Tenets

Genetic Tree Showing Ethnicity LossUnderstanding the complexities of autosomal DNA can be very challenging for newbies.

However, there are a few basic tenets that I believe can help these newbies.  These tenets are essentially tools that newbies can use to analyze an autosomal DNA problem for themselves.

For example, here are the two very basic tenets that I typically introduce in my autosomal DNA lectures especially for the newbies:

  • You only have to go  back about 5 generations to start losing ancestors from your Genetic Family Tree.

So many of the issues that newbies run into can be resolved or prevented through understanding of these concepts.

The Coop Lab

The lab of Graham Coop, an associate professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, maintains a blog where they often discuss genetics.  Today they published an interesting blog post entitled “How much of your genome do you inherit from a particular ancestor?  In the post, they perform a handful of different analyses using data they had for one generation of transmissions which was compounded over multiple generations.

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23andMe and Udacity Partner to Offer A Free Online Genetics Course

Discover yourself at 23andMe23andMe and Udacity today announced a new online course entitled “Tales from the Genome: Adventures in DNA, Identity, and Health,” a Massive Open Online Course (“MOOC”) directed at genetics.  According to the website, students will learn about “fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information.”  The class is labeled as being aimed at beginners.

Although not announced on the Udacity website, the course will be available beginning on September 30, 2013.

The “Tales from the Genome” class will be taught by Matthew Cook, Lauren Castellano, Joanna Mountain (of 23andMe), and Uta Francke (also of 23andMe).  For more information, see the press release at Market Watch (“23andMe and Udacity Launch Introductory Human Genetics Course“).

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Salon Article About the “Stanford’s Genetics 210″ Class Using 23andMe Testing

Discover yourself at 23andMeAt Salon, an article entitled “The college class that could reveal your real father” by Katya Cengel discusses a course at Stanford called “Genetics 210.”  The class uses [entirely optional] 23andme testing to explore the many issues associated with genetic testing.  Although the class is offered to both graduate and undergraduate students, the class is filled with mostly graduate students.

All students go through the informed consent process carefully, and have access to a genetic counselor and a psychiatrist (although according to the report not a single student has contacted the psychiatrist in the four semesters the course has been offered, and only two have contacted the genetic counselor).

The most interesting aspect of the article, to me, was the complication that identical twins pose to genetic testing.  Epigenetic differences aside (which are currently NOT tested), a genetic test for one will directly apply to the other.  So what happens when one twin wants to know and the other doesn’t?

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Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?

I’ve received a number of emails and comments (see, e.g., here) complaining about Ancestry.com’s new test, AncestryDNA.  Specifically, several test-takers believe that the Genetic Ethnicity Prediction provided by Ancestry.com does not reflect the numbers that they expected based on their own research.

For example:

“I just got my DNA test results back from Ancestry.com and I am concerned. I was born in England and I have gone back many generations and have found that all my ancestors as far back as the 1600′s in most cases are English.  According to the results I have no British Isles DNA. It states that I have 60% Central Europe, 30% Scandinavian and 7% Southern Europe. I also have 3% unknown. How can this be?”

“Just received my results: 21% Southern European and 79% Central European which doesn’t follow years of work on my family history.”

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